June 27, 2013

AUTO RACING NOTEBOOK: Giroux still has love for the sport

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Red Giroux no longer races cars -- those days ended in 1964 -- but take in the action at Unity Raceway on a summer night and you might see him around.

click image to enlarge

THE REAL DEAL: The No. 22 Shell-Penzoil Ford Fusion driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano was in Topsham on Wednesday and is visiting select locations around the state.

Staff photo by Bill Stewart

Better yet, attend a local antique car show and there's a better chance you'll see him and a replica of his old ride -- a 1930 Ford Model A Coupe.

"I still bring it around," said Giroux, 80, of Fairfield. "It's a flathead with a V8 motor in it. I haul it around to a variety of shows. I take it different places. It's quite a little toy."

Giroux won a pair of championships at Unity Raceway in the early 1950s that helped him become one of the bigger stars in his time at the track.

Two months ago, the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame welcomed Giroux as its newest member. Bob Hallee, 67, of Winslow, and the late Lloyd "Butch" Burgess were also inducted.

Giroux started racing in 1952 and retired in 1964, the year before Unity paved its track. He has a lot of memories and plenty of victories during his career.

"Boy, I had a lot of fun," Giroux said. "There was one year in the '50s where I won eight consecutive weeks. No one has done that since. The track was real tough but it was a good show. I haven't raced in quite a while, though. It's been a few years.

"It's quite an honor to be inducted. We went down to the (Augusta Civic Center) and I gave a speech in front of 200 people. That was quite an episode, but I got through it."

Hallee raced for 34 years at Unity and Wiscasset Speedway. He's won more than 100 features in a variety of classes. Hallee also has four track championships, including one at Unity and three at Wiscasset.

"It was quite an honor," he said. "A few of the guys I raced against were in, like Stan Meserve, but I never thought I would be mentioned."

Hallee made his racing debut in 1965 and retired in 2000.

"I didn't race solid all those years," he said. "I'd have some spells, but we did a lot of racing."

Hallee still has a 1980 Chevrolet Camaro he raced at Wiscasset and Unity.

"It's collecting rust," he said with a laugh.

Burgess, who died in 2009, won several track championships, primarily at Unity. His racing career spanned 24 years.

* * *

The No. 22 Shell-Penzoil Ford Fusion driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano is visiting select convenient stores and gas stations across the state.

On Wednesday, the retired car was at Rusty's Market in Topsham as part of an annual NASCAR day.

"We do this seven days a week, 365 days a year," said Harry Garbart, a Shell-Penzoil spokesperson. "We go all over the country. We just put it in the trailer and go everywhere."

The car, which is owned by Penske Racing, attracted quite a crowd Wednesday, with many curious onlookers taking advantage of the rare opportunity to peek inside a functioning NASCAR car.

Garbart, whose operations are based in Mooresville, N.C., started the car up for fans.

"This thing can go 200 mph right now," he said. "This is not a replica."

The No. 22 Fusion was also brought to Lewiston and Wiscasset this week. It has scheduled stops in Ellsworth and Trenton before the crew takes it to Vermont in a few weeks.

* * *

The Brackett family is enjoying a strong season in the Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway.

T.J. Brackett leads the division with 352 points while his dad, Tim, is second with 319. T.J.'s sister, Vanna, is ninth with 248.

She was positioned to climb higher but a wreck last Friday in practice deflated those aspirations.

"Got the whole front end ripped off," she said. "We've been going a lot better. We have a fast car. Wrecking in practice, it usually doesn't happen. But what can you do?"

Brackett drives a Late Model owned by Winthrop native Kevin Burgess.

She hopes it will be repaired in time for the next points race tonight.

"We'll try to bounce back," she said. "We're looking for a top-five finish."

* * *

Left turns: Fort Kent native Austin Theriault won his second career Pro All Stars Series South race last weekend when he took the checkered flag in the rain-shortened Rumble in the Pines 150 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C. ... Wayne Helliwell, Jr. leads the American-Canadian Tour with 550 points while Jimmy Hebert is second with 538. Defending TD Bank 250 champ Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. is third with 508. Polewarczyk is one of two ACT drivers with at least two victories this season.

Bill Stewart -- 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com

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